Courses Offered in Spring 2018
Sociology 2345, The Social Structure of American Society is being offered by Dr. Townsand Price-Spratlen and below is a description.
An exploration of the social structure of contemporary American society. Social structure is the pattern of institutional arrangements that both emerge from, and are determined by, the actions of individuals, groups and the relationships among them. On the macro scale, structure typically means institutions, relationships between institutions, and the outcomes that result from these institutional relationships. On the meso level, structure typically means organizations, social networks, and the ties within both. On the micro level, structure is often understood through how macro and meso level factors matter in the decisions and actions of individuals and small groups. We will focus our exploration on urban settings in general, and the role of mass incarceration in particular. And we will use two books, a set of related articles, and episodes from the third season of The Wire; the HBO series that ran from 2002 to 2008. The city of Baltimore, MD and the shows characters, relationships and storylines will function, in essence, as a fictional case study. Described by its creator, David Simon, The Wire is “about the American city, and about how we live together [in it]. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, [or] a politician…all are ultimately compromised and must [live in, and] contend with whatever institution they are committed to.” We will explore these compromises and commitments, and how mass incarceration – and individual citizens – are shaped by, and are shaping, the social structure of contemporary American society. Note – The Wire contains scenes with “profanity, overt drug use, violence, nudity, and strong sexual content.” Students who feel they may be offended by such content may prefer to enroll in a different course.